tv Democracy Now PBS July 19, 2014 5:00am-6:01am PDT
>> hello and welcome to a brand-new edition of "in good shape," your weekly health show on dw from berlin. did you know that childhood diseases like mumps, chickenpox, and measles can affect adults and they can be quite dangerous and sometimes even deadly despite widespread vaccination -- these diseases are still a problem as many people in the western world to not see a point in getting vaccinations. they seem shortsighted. we will talk to an expert about childhood diseases in adults and what to do about them.
here is what else we have in store. every breath you take. how robert breathing techniques can energize you. howevery meal you make. how to eat right to prevent kidney failure. and every step you take. how to recognize ganglions and treat them. first, the good news. according to the world health organization, there has been a worldwide drop of 80% and measles mortality over the last 12 years thanks to vaccination. in other words, measles vaccine nations have saved 14 million lives. but there are 300 people dying every day of measles for making this disease one of the main causes of death in young children. even adults are at risk. >> she had to spend several days
in isolation ward. she contracted measles. >> i had been feeling quite unwell. for several days rundown, no appetite and too worn-out for daily activities. then i got a bad cough and a rash, so i went to hospital. it happened quite fast. >> the rash is similar to the kind that you would associate with a allergic reaction, but they do not cause itchiness. once the rash disappears, the other symptoms improve, too. basically anyone can catch it regardless of age, children and adults. older people who grew up in the postwar period in the 1950's are immune because they have had the disease, so they are protected.
those who aren't immune are in the 15 to 40 year old age group because they have not been adequately vaccinated and have not had the disease before. measles can be a very serious disease. some 10% to 20% of people who contracted develop complications, including pneumonia. apart from pneumonia, children contract middle ear infections. they are known as superinfection. bacteria which piggyback on the primary measles virus. other very serious infections involve the central nervous system. that is the brain and the men in just -- meiningus. in young children there is a serious strain that is fatal. but if you can get the
vaccination, it is entirely avoidable. the vaccination provides long-term protection against the disease. >> vaccinations can cause on-site reactions as well as general ones, but the side effects disappear quickly. >> all it takes to ward off measles is too small of the needle to your upper arm. > >> health experts recommend that the first administration be administered between 11 and 14 months. children should have a second booster shot before the age of two. in the case of adults, anyone born after 1970 who has not been vaccinated or who has only been back in native ones should get a booster. >> the measles virus is contained in tiny droplets that can survive for two hours in the air. carriers are contagious before they developed centuries. astrid knows she might have infected others. >> when i think when i went
shopping or walking in the park there were little kids around me. i will have coughed without realizing i was contagious. i hope i did not pass it on to too many people. >> fortunately, astrid made a full recovery with no complications. >> with me in studio is a pediatrician. welcome to the show. >> i am glad to be here. >> why do so many people underestimate the danger of measles? >> i think that has to do with the decreased degree of information and of awareness that is attributable to the success of prevention programs. back to the 1970's, every child had measles in the natural course and people knew very well how to recognize it and how to care for it. but nowadays measles have become
rather rare, due to the success of vaccination. both haircare workers and the general population -- health care workers and the general population do not recognize the symptoms as the beginning of the disease and that can lead to infection spreads that we see often. >> i mean, the rash is quite characteristic but there are some a specific signs. >> the rash only develops between the third and fifth day of the disease, but before people suffer from fever and from flulike symptoms like cough and malaise but only with the rash the diagnosis of measles becomes more evident. >> if i would contract measles what should i do? >> once the diagnosis has been made, there is no definite causal option.
what you should do is try to prevent further spread by remaining away from things like public transport or the waiting room. and you should seek medical care to be screened for potential complications. you can treat fever and make sure that your fluid intake is high enough. >> there are complications and they are quite dangerous. what kind of complications does meet have -- does measles have? >> they have potential complications like pneumonia or typhus, but also what we fear is two different types of infection of the central nervous system, a form of encephalitis that can occur acutely, both in adults and children. and a very complicated and mostly lethal form of late onset
infection of the nervous system that can have a latency period of 10 years. >> the best thing is to get a shot against measles, get yourself vaccinated. who should get the shot, even adults? >> everybody, yes. in central europe or recommend general vaccination coverage for young children. the first shot before the first birthday and another, second vaccination after the second birthday. but also adults who have not or not definitelyy been vaccinated twice and have not covered the natural course of the disease should be vaccinated if they have access to health care. >> if i am not sure if i am immune, should i get my vaccination nevertheless? >> in a situation when there is someone near you that was diagnosed with measles, that is
definitely the best thing to do because the time period is crucial. and early vaccination within three days of exposition will protect you fairly well against the disease and also lower the risk of consultations. if it's not such an accute outbreak you can have a blood draw and have your specific antibody titus checked. >> see you gp if you are in doubt. we will continue to talk about vaccines and among. childhood diseases are highly contagious. most of them are airborne so coughing can be enough to transmit the disease to the person sitting next to you on the bus. most people infected do not take precautions because they do not realize how sick they are at first, like the patient in this report. >> just listening to it is distressing that these people few people recognize whooping cough. >> we've actually seen a significant rise in the number
of whooping cough infections over the last few years. it is unclear whether that is due to a reluctance to be vaccinated. in adults the main symptom is a really brutal cough that is difficult to treat. in children it can sometime cause severe breathing difficulties. >> whooping cough is highly contagious. expressed by bacteria that enter your lungs as you breathe. the bacteria and attached themselves to your bronchial membranes and release toxins. that mobilizes the tiny hairs lining the lungs. as a result of body's natural defenses are weakened. the toxins cause the caugh. -- the cough. claudia does not know how she contracted whooping cough. her first symptom was a headache company by temperature. >> then i got the cough and i could not shake it. .it was really brutal i was coughing up phlegm and it
really hurt. i took antibiotics but they did not help. i did steam inhalation but that did not help, either. so i just had to suffer through 45, for six weeks. >> whooping cough starts with nonspecific symptoms. in some cases, a nasal or throat swab can identify bacteria. that is vital if patients are to be treated with antibiotics. antibodies in the blood can reveal when the bloo infection began. >> it's only in the first phase, that is during the first week or two that you can detect the pathogens and fight them with antibiotics. later on, when only the toxins remain, you need to employ other methods. at that point it is about treating symptoms through inhaling steam and cortisone.
>> as well as relieving the cough, treatment aims at preventing other complications. this x-ray shows what can happen if the infection is not treated successfully. this patient has contracted severe pneumonia in the upper right-hand section of their long. -- their lung. other complications include bronchitis and asthma. to avoid developing complications it is important to receive regular booster vaccines. it is not enough to have received the whooping cough vaccination as a child. >> the vaccines are effective for about 10 years. after that, you are just as susceptible to the disease as someone who has never been vaccinated. vaccination is vital because whooping cough is so contagious. between 80% and 90% of people who come in contact with the disease and contracting it. -- end up contracting it.
children in particular tend to develop life-threatening convocations. it stops some infants being able to breathe. children can only be protected of all adults get the vaccination. i need a break is a small price to pay to prevent yourself and others from catching a cough that can be deadly. >> so you should get a whooping cough booster efrin 10 years after immunization. but what if you caught the disease in childhood. are you immune for the rest of your life or do you have to boost it? >> other than measles, whooping cough does not leave lifelong immunity. even after natural disease, a booster vaccination is recommended after 10 years. >> so how often should you go and see your gp to check your immunization? your pediatrician. but for adults? >> in children we have
recommended vaccinations sometimes several times a year. in adults, interval between five and 10 years seems reasonable to see your gp to review your immunizations and make sure that your coverage is up to the actual recommendations. >> not all infectious diseases are viral. there are many diseases that are caused by bacteria. what is the role of antibiotics in treating scarlet fever or whooping cough? >> in bacterial diseases, there are good recommendations for instituting antibiotic treatment. whooping cough for example, if antibiotic treatment is instituted early it can shorten the length of sentence. mostly when whooping cough is diagnosed in the stage of a coughing, then it probably will not change the course of the disease but it will stop the
contagiousness of the patient and no further spread can occur. in early fever antibiotics are foreign to treat the disease. >> if yo ucau can treat the disease, you should get vaccines but many of my patients are scared of the side effects. like our viewer from argentina. she is afraid of the side effects of vaccination. do you have any advice? >> my advice would be that she should review together with her general practitioner the existing evidence and the recommendations. there are worldwide expert and nationwide committees that b alance the complications and the risk of problems that the natural disease can bring about against the very low incidence of serious complications of the
vaccinations, which are, their prevalence is way below one in 100,000 vaccinations, if we are not talking about a little bit of swelling, redness at the site of injection, but relevant complications are not really something to be worried about. >> those are more local side effects. what about if a child hasn't tolerated a vaccine well the first time? should i continue with the immunization? >> we need to differentiate very well. there are certain rare but complicated problems after vaccination that can be a reason to change the immunization rate or use a different product or stop the vaccination because the risk of subsequent immun ization, but that has to be weighed. >> if in doubt, after gp.
thank you so much for being with us today. >> you are most welcome. >> if you can, see your doctor soon to get yourself vaccinated. do not forget to send in any questions you would like us to ask our experts in our studio. interview. >> in an upcoming show will be talking about relaxation techniques. some people find it tough workout the most relaxing thing in the world, while others prefer more gentle techniques. if you have got a question about relaxation, write to us at ingoodshape at dw.de. the key word is relaxation and the closing date is july 8. you will find our mailing address on our website. >> take a deep breath and relax. where do you feel your breath? expanding your chest or do you feel it down in your tummy? focusing on breathing can be very relaxing. many meditation techniques use
the awareness of breathing to relax and concentrate on the here and now. in and out and enjoy our report on breathing. >> astrid always begins her class with a diaphragm exercise. it involves the -- reading technique. it it helps a lot of air to circulate and relaxes the diaphragm which is important for good breathing. >> people whose diaphragms are constricted use different muscles for support. they start breathing like this. and as yo ucan imagine you can even see it quite clearly in my facial expression. there are under a strain. but what you need is to open up and relax. you need to use your diaphragm as your main respiratory muscle. >> every day we take 30,000 breast. -- 30,000 breath.
learning to breathe properly is about perceiving the air moving through your body. this group is learning to breathe consciously and deeply. >> when people only breathe shallowly in the upper part of her lungs they end up getting short of breath. that leads to a lack of energy. breathing with her abdomen gives us energy and strength. >> nursery teachers ingrid experiences breathlessness. she is learning how to use techniques to generate the energy she needs for her job. >> i notice in my everyday life i often do not breathe deeply enough. that i tend to breathe in the lower part of my long. leaving the upper part out.
that has been quite challenging for me. but i notice it has been improving with time. >> breathing is so deeply connected with a person. it belongs as much to us as our life story does. everyone has a different breathing style. breathing cannot be categorized as either right or wrong. but if you sense construction, there are many techniques you can employ to free yourself up again. >> breathing deeply allows more air to enter the lungs. it's then distributed by the blood, allowing our entire body to get a good supply of oxygen. >> if you ever heard of a lump that may form at any joint. doctors call it a ganglion cyst.
suffers used to try to crush it with a big book. >> bible bumps are soft lumps that appear directly under the skin. they appear the wrist joint on the back of the hand. the swellings appear on top of a joint or tendon and can feel for more spongy. the medical term for them is ganglion cysts. ganglion cysts are soft to begin with. they contain a clear fluid and become firmer overtime. eventually they harden and appear as a round or oval lump. bumps can vary in size. ganglion cysts the form near n erve can cause pain. that can lead to loss of mobility.
their cause is still unknown. excessive strain and infection are thought to play a role. but an individual's predisposition is considered the most important factor. treatment of ganglion cysts used to be brutal. doctors and patients themselves smashed them open with limited success. to remove the lump for good, you need an operation. related conditions include heel spurs and finance. both of these involve bone protrusions -- heel spurs and bone spurs. >> they are shaped like two big beans and are located on either side of her abdomen. normally you do not notice him working but if they fail, you have a real problem as you cannot eliminate toxins from your body and you will be slowly poisoned if you do not get it treated. so make sure you take good care of your kidneys. here's how. >> when he go shopping, he has
for the fruit investable file. he tends to avoid eating meat and salty foods. it was not always that way. he used to eat a lot of meat. a healthy diet was not a priority. but when a checkup revealed impaired kidney function, his doctor advised him to change his diet. >> the combination of high blood pressure and impaired kidney function is not a good way to avoid dialysis in the long-term. changing my diet allowed me to keep my blood pressure within a normal range and sometimes even below. that is good for my kidneys. so diet is hugely important. >> if he had not changed his diet he would require dialysis. he is a regular at this university hospital.
making these life cell changes probably saved his kidneys. he had no idea his kidneys were no longer functioning properly. >> the scary thing is tases kido not cause any pain. kidney stones are really painful and so is -- but many diseases that lead to kidney failure do not cause any discomfort. you might notice fluid retention in your legs and your blood pressure might be high but that is it. >> experts believe that millions of people around the world to not realize that their kidneys are not functioning properly. >> i've realized that there are some diseases that do not give you warning signs but later massively impact on your quality of life. so i can really only advise people to go for checkups and make sure they get properly examined every now and then, particularly as they get older. >> you can also monitor it yourself.
>> blood-pressure meters are readily available. and if your blood pressure is more than 140 over 90, then you should get it checked at the doctors office. ask them to take the urine sample and check that your kidneys are functioning properly. >> he's grown accustomed to his dude i. he -- his new diet. he is happy to have appointed dialysis and he has managed to shut vertical -- to shed 30 kilograms. >> that is all for today. friend is on facebook. we will be back again next weekend. until then, let's all try to stay "in good shape." captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org--
>> mcfarland: most adults can remember going through puberty. it's a normal part of growing up. but it becomes abnormal when it starts very early, when, for example, a very young child starts showing signs of breast development or has a sudden growth spurt. >> oh, precocious puberty can begin at any time from a few months up until the usual age of puberty. >> mcfarland: according to the american academy of pediatrics, precocious puberty, also known as early-onset puberty, occurs in approximately 1 out of 160 children. research shows that it's more common in girls than boys. >> we just noticed that her breasts were developing, and she also was moody, but that was hard to tell at first. it was the breasts that triggered us. >> mcfarland: although not
life-threatening, precocious puberty may affect the child's overall growth rate and ultimate height. the child might be much shorter than he or she would have been without precocious puberty. >> part of pubertal development is that the bones are maturing-- if it's untreated would be the potential to end up with a very significant compromise in adult height. >> mcfarland: but as we'll learn today on healthy body, healthy mind, there are effective therapies that can stop the progression of puberty. these treatments may help the child avoid the physical consequences of precocious puberty. [upbeat instrumental music] ♪ >> male announcer: major funding for healthy body, healthy mind is provided by: novartis oncology.
novartis oncology strives to become the world's premier oncology business by consistently discovering, developing, and making novel therapies that may improve and extend the lives of people living with cancer. and by incyte corporation. incyte's vision is to become a leading biopharmaceutical company focused on improving the lives of patients with serious unmet medical needs. additional funding provided by: abbott. ironwood pharmaceuticals. janssen pharmaceuticals inc. >> mcfarland: puberty is the stage that marks the transition between childhood and adulthood. going through puberty is awkward
enough for most teenagers, so just imagine a five- or six-year-old child showing clear physical signs of early development. but that's exactly what can happen with a condition known as precocious puberty. jaime and lee weir are proud parents of 14-year-old rebecca, 11-year-old rachel, and 9-year-old alicia. they are a vibrant, happy family, but the weirs have something not all families have: hereditary precocious puberty. >> rachel goes second. i had never heard of it. >> you know your kids from oldest to youngest. >> my husband's family had. >> this is a family with a strong history of precocious puberty passed through on the dad's side. >> mcfarland: dr. erica eugster is a professor of pediatrics and the director of pediatric endocrinology at riley hospital for children at indiana university health.
>> if you look at the family tree, it appears to be inherited. >> mcfarland: children of a parent with a history of precocious puberty have an increased chance of developing early puberty. lee and his sister, beth, had precocious puberty when they were very young, so it wasn't a complete surprise when rebecca, the weirs' first daughter, started exhibiting signs. they'd noticed her early development when she was about five years old. >> being new parents, we didn't realize that anything was wrong. i mean, she had gained some weight. she had gotten tall. we just thought it was growth spurts. >> mcfarland: while age five is much too young to be going through puberty, the age of the onset of puberty has been steadily declining. >> for girls, the lower end of normal for the beginning of puberty is considered, generally, to be 7 1/2 for hispanic and african-american girls and 8 years for caucasian girls. and for boys, we consider the lower end of normal to be age 9.
>> mcfarland: however, throughout the course of human history, the age of puberty in general has gone through some changes. dr. peter lee is a pediatric endocrinologist and a professor of pediatrics at penn state university, hershey school of medicine. >> it's been well-documented in many countries, more so in europe, because of records, that the age of puberty among females declined for at least a century from the mid-- from the 1850s to 1950. >> mcfarland: in the 1800s and early 1900s, a girl's first menstrual cycle occurred much later than it currently does, somewhere around age 18 or 19. >> and the age of menarche has declined very steeply and progressively from that time,
largely due to improvements in nutrition and public health. however, that process seems to have basically plateaued since the--say, the 1960s. >> mcfarland: problems with nutrition continue to influence the age of puberty. but today poor diet and the growing obesity epidemic may be fueling early puberty. >> if you divide children in terms of those who are obese and those who are of normal weight, it's really the obese girls who seem to be experiencing an earlier onset of puberty. >> so, for example, a girl who's not yet pubertal still produces small amounts of estrogen, and if that estrogen accumulates in an increased amount of fatty tissue in an overweight child, that child may be exposed-- self-exposed based on these levels.
>> mcfarland: so while nutritional influences have been a factor in later-onset puberty in the past, there appear to be other reasons children today may experience precocious or early-onset puberty. doctors have been able to identify certain disruptions in the brain that may turn on the body's natural pubertal process. >> the reproductive system consists of several different levels that secrete specialized hormones that are involved in the entire process. and we normally think of things as beginning at the level of the hypothalamus, which is a special region in the brain, and this, the hypothalamus, secretes a hormone called gnrh or gonadotropin-releasing hormone, which in turn stimulates the anterior pituitary gland to secrete two hormones, lh and fsh. and these hormones then, in turn, stimulate the ovaries in females and the testes in males.
and then the gonads produce sex steroids, which cause the physical changes of puberty. >> mcfarland: the sex steroids are primarily estrogen by the ovaries and testosterone by the testes. these hormones cause the physical changes of puberty. some of the physical signs of puberty may include deepening of the voice, body hair growth, and breast and genital development. even though pretty much everyone who grows up goes through puberty, the process seems somewhat mysterious. but the bottom line is, when the factors in the body that stimulate the hormones overwhelm the factors that inhibit the hormones, puberty results. >> generally speaking, in the prepubertal child, there are more inhibitory influences suppressing the release of this hormone than stimulatory influences. and whenever the stimulatory influences predominate, then
puberty begins. >> mcfarland: sometimes there are physical reasons: diseases, tumors, or infections in the brain can upset the balance of hormones and cause puberty to begin. >> we're talking about the primary sex hormone, testosterone in boys and estrogen in girls. and so any condition that exposes a child to those hormones will result in precocious puberty. >> mcfarland: jaime didn't know if anything was physically wrong with her five-year-old daughter, but she was concerned that rebecca was growing faster than other children her age. >> she was way ahead of most of the kids that we knew. i wasn't exactly sure what caused it, what to do about it. >> mcfarland: jaime is not alone. it's often very difficult for parents to understand why their child is going through these changes, sometimes even before
kindergarten age. they're concerned, maybe even frightened about what exactly is causing these changes to occur. but the reality is, there are many possible factors that can lead to precocious puberty. [playing old macdonald] ♪ >> mcfarland: this is eight-year-old brie. she loves to play piano and hang out with her sisters in their pennsylvania home. when brie was five, her mom, clover, started noticing something different in her daughter, something she never had to deal with in her other children. >> she was very up and down with her mood swings. one time she'd be happy, and then the next time, she'd just be having tantrums, crying, upset, and we wouldn't know what was triggering her. so we didn't know if that was just her personality, that she'd be sensitive. so that was the hard part. we couldn't tell just saying that was the one thing.
but then development-wise, the breast tissue, and she was very tall. all my kids were very tall, but she was growing pretty fast too so that, you know, she was a head taller than everybody else her age. so that was another trigger for us. >> mcfarland: common signs of precocious puberty are the same as those of regular puberty: >> so it is exactly the same as when a child would go into puberty at a typical age, only it begins many years earlier than would be considered normal. children have linear growth acceleration. they, after a period of time, then begin to have other physical changes such as body hair, adult body odor.
they also are experiencing maturation of the bones, and so all of these things progress, again, mimicking the normal pubertal development. >> it was scary, 'cause we didn't--i didn't even know what was going on. i didn't know what was causing it. >> it's nice to see you. how are you? >> hi, i'm clover. >> hi. >> hi. i'm tony. >> mcfarland: the lucianos hoped to get some answers when they took brie to see her pediatrician. >> they started testing and kind of made me feel like i was glad that the changes i noticed were actually happening. it was just the physical changes and everything was something, but it was scary at the same time, because you didn't know why it was happening. i have two older girls, so the hard part of that was that they were fine, and we never had them go through this. so we didn't understand why it was her and not the other children. [knocking at door]
>> how are you doing? i'm dr. kletter. nice to meet you again. >> you too. >> mcfarland: depending on what physical puberty stage the child is in, doctors may require a blood test. the test measures the amount of hormone levels. they may also order an x-ray of the child's hand. >> so we spend a lot of time, you know, finding out from the parent exactly what they're noticing, when these changes began, and how things have evolved over time. >> so this is part of the camera, and i'm gonna bring the camera over, and this is what's going to take your picture. >> the next tests that would be done to confirm that, number one, would be a picture of the left hand and wrist, which we call a bone age x-ray, and then the second test that is done to confirm the diagnosis would be to measure hormone levels, and typically, that would involve the hormone lh or luteinizing hormone, which is really the most sensitive indicator of what the pubertal status is of a
child. assuming we've confirmed the diagnosis, then, typically, we would obtain an mri scan of the brain just to make sure that there's nothing structurally abnormal that is causing the precocious puberty. >> mcfarland: for brie luciano, doctors performed a bone age x-ray looking to see if the age of her bones was the same as her chronological age. >> so we actually are looking at growth plates in the fingers and in the wrist and in the forearm. so we're actually looking at the shape and the contour of these bones right here. you can see a black line in the middle. that represents where the cartilage plate is. that's where active growth is occurring, and these are called the epiphysis. so we look at the shape of these
bones in the child's x-ray. we also look at these bones, which are called the carpals, and then we look at the radius and ulna, which are at the very end of the forearm. >> mcfarland: when the weir family took rebecca to see dr. eugster, her bone age x-ray showed rebecca's bones were older than she was. >> when she was five, i want to say she was, like, a seven- or eight-year-old. >> mcfarland: while going through puberty is not dangerous or life-threatening, children who have precocious puberty that's not treated may be left with some consequences later in life. >> are you as tall as they are? this early growth spurt occurs, but the rest of the story is that growth stops earlier. and one of the tools that are used to judge growth potential is to look at bone maturation, because the typical boy, for example, if he has precocious
puberty at age 9, he may be the height of an 11-year-old, but his bones may be matured like a 13-year-old. so even though he's grown at an increased rate and looks tall and one would expect he'll continue to be large, he will stop growing sooner, because, in fact, he has two years less to grow than the typical 11-year-old, even though he is only 9. and that is one of the key phenomena of puberty. >> mcfarland: lee weir is familiar with the consequences of untreated precocious puberty. there weren't effective treatments when he was going through it, and he didn't want his daughter rebecca to experience what he did. also, his youngest daughter, alicia, started showing signs of puberty at age four. >> with rebecca, they actually said that she was in her final
growth spurt when we caught it. so we caught it. we were able to stop it. they did tell us that with rebecca if we would not have done it, she would have been a total of 4'8", and she's 5'3" right now. so that gave her several more inches, which was great. they've never really told us how tall alicia would have been if we wouldn't have done it. so but obviously, she's taller than--i mean, she's 4'8" right now, so... and she's not even-- she's nine. [chuckles] good try, girl. >> we don't want her to grow four inches. >> mcfarland: for clover luciano, waiting for her daughter to be diagnosed took its toll. >> i was scared, because i'm, like--i just was concerned, like, why. that was my first question. why her? why is she going through this? what did i do? so i felt guilty that i did something that caused her to go through this. so that was the main, you know, concern i had was, what caused this? how do we stop it?
>> mcfarland: a child with precocious puberty can look like a teenager in a room full of first or second graders. this may have an emotional impact on both the child and the family. also, there can be considerable physical concerns. children with untreated precocious puberty ultimately may be much shorter than they would have been otherwise. but there are treatments that can stop the process. coming up, we'll take a look at those therapies and see how they work to slow down or, in some cases, even halt precocious puberty. physicians use the tanner scale to stage where a child is in the puberty process. divided into five stages, the tanner scale measures physical development based on primary and secondary sex characteristics and helps determine which treatment option to use. if you'd like to see this program again or watch any of our other healthy body, healthy mind programs, please visit our
website at: >> he wants to get you on camera shooting it. ready? ready? >> is that-- >> mcfarland: the key to successful treatment of precocious puberty is early diagnosis. once children are properly diagnosed, they can then be given treatments to slow down or even stop puberty. indiana sports enthusiast davon is seven years old. he loves spending his time on the basketball court with his mom, tiffany. when davon was only two, tiffany started to see some changes. >> the things i was noticing were pubic hair and body odor. we called his pediatrician and took him right there. his doctor had referred him to riley to see somebody else, to see what was going on. >> mcfarland: precocious puberty is much more common in girls but is not unheard of in boys. >> and we see far, far fewer boys with precocious puberty.
and the other thing about boys is that about 50% of the time, we actually find an abnormality in the brain: a tumor or something structural. so it's a more serious diagnosis to make in a boy. >> well, i've never heard about symptoms of precocious puberty before, so i was really confused, and i didn't really know what to think. in my head, at the time when i found out, i was just confused and just trying to look into it, because i was--i knew nothing about it. >> mcfarland: davon underwent all the necessary tests, including an mri of his brain, which came back normal. his bone age x-ray revealed that davon's bones were two years older than his chronological age. because of his rapid growth, finding the right treatment for him was next. the science of how treatment works is fascinating. >> our bodies are hardwired to respond to that hypothalamic
hormone, gnrh, when it is secreted or when we are exposed to it in a pulsatile fashion. so the hypothalamus secretes pulses of this hormone. it was discovered that if a child is exposed to a steady high concentration of this hormone that it has the paradoxical effect of shutting the entire system down, basically suppressing it. >> mcfarland: the fda has approved several medications that are effective for the treatment of precocious puberty. there are various treatment options from monthly to three-month injections and even a yearly implant. as time goes on, experts say they believe we're apt to see more and more options. the goal of treatment is to slow down puberty, to allow the child to be a child until the normal age of puberty. davon started therapy soon after his diagnosis, and he has been
doing very well. the condition has stabilized. >> once it started working, then you could tell the difference. the body odor wasn't there. the puberty was stable. >> mcfarland: for eight-year-old brie luciano, the diagnosis of precocious puberty meant that the lucianos needed to make a decision. >> they sat us down and said we could treat her, or we could not. it was totally up to us. if we didn't treat her, he said she'd probably go through puberty, and she'd be short. even though she's growing at a fast rate, he said she wouldn't even reach five foot. we didn't want for her to have to deal with going through puberty. >> answer that question. >> mcfarland: once the weirs had the diagnosis of precocious puberty, rebecca and her younger sister, alicia, were treated right away. >> it was as soon as possible, because rebecca was just-- she was progressing so fast. with alicia, it's not so bad. rebecca's always been older than
what the rest of kids have been. so it was a little harder for her. with alicia, it's just--it's an everyday thing. >> mcfarland: davon, brie, rebecca, and alicia got the proper diagnosis. they began treatment right away. it's helped them stave off the onset of puberty so they can experience the rest of their childhood. >> i couldn't imagine going through the things you have to go through as a teenager at that age. you know, being a six-, seven-year-old having to deal with the hormones and all the other things that go along with puberty, you know, they need to be kids. >> [laughs] [playing piano] ♪ >> mcfarland: having precocious puberty does not have to have an impact. children can experience their childhood. with early diagnosis and the array of treatment options available, a child can grow normally without any long-term consequences. that's it for this edition of
healthy body, healthy mind. i'm dr. scott mcfarland. see you next time. if you'd like to see this program again or watch any of our other healthy body, healthy mind programs, please visit our website at: to answer any specific questions you may have, be sure to contact your health care provider. to comment on today's program, please call: or email: or visit our website at: >> announcer: major funding for healthy body, healthy mind is provided by novartis oncology. novartis oncology strives to become the world's premier oncology business by consistently discovering, developing, and making novel therapies that may improve and extend the lives of people living with cancer.